But Hezbollah has expanded its role in the region.
Exactly. Also due to the urgency of the Sunni jihadist threat. The nature of the confrontation between Hezbollah and Jihadists in Syria is very different from the conflict with Israel, which is a state inserted in an international context and must consider its relations with the United States. The confrontation with Israel is basically based on deterrence and balance and, from time to time, military clashes. This does not exist in conflict with the jihadists fighting Hezbollah because it is Shiite and not for its alliance with Damascus, they would never be able to reach a compromise. At the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the leadership of the Lebanese Shiite movement just gave political support to Bashar Assad because it saw an ally of exceptional importance in danger. And also because the Syrian secular opposition had announced that if it came to power, it would sever relations with Iran and Hezbollah. Hezbollah decided to start the military intervention in Syria when it perceived a consistent threat to its own existence from jihadists and takfiris, which were setting up bases in Lebanon and executing bloody attacks against Shiites.
The region is not only Syria. Why does Hezbollah act in other countries in the area? Its opponents accuse it of fomenting sectarianism.
Hezbollah is committed to war against the jihadists and its ideological and religious enemies. As a result, Hezbollah extended its involvement to Iraq, part of Yemen and in other areas, although in different ways, not always with interventions on the ground. With the passage of time, it has become a major player in the ongoing crisis, with a weight in regional events that can be compared to that of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Its behavior is similar to that of a state that protects its interests and intervenes politically or by use of force. On a small scale, they do what the United States does in this part of the world. The military parade with tanks and artillery [which Hezbollah conducted in Syria a few weeks ago] was a message to the Middle East: Hezbollah is no longer just a guerrilla movement. Hezbollah is a powerful and influential player in this region.
What kind of role does Hezbollah want to play in Lebanon?
Hezbollah is a state within the Lebanese state, much more than in the past. There is an entire Shiite society that today leads that state, directly and indirectly. Hezbollah has adopted what might be called a “national security doctrine,” but above all it focuses on the protection of its society and its resistance. For this reason, Hezbollah is keeping a lower profile than before in national politics to favor its regional role.